Man in the sala

Walk into the residences of the Philippines’ most important established families — Zobel, Madrigal, Cojuangco, Lopez, Ortigas, Araneta, Aboitiz, et. al. [ as well as the traditional or new cultured Chinese rich — Sy, Tan, Yao-Campos, Que Pe, et. al. ] — and you will see, aside from the multimillion peso works of Fernando Cueto Amorsolo and Fernando Montojo Zobel, the equally multimillion peso paintings of Vicente Silva Manansala, whom they knew in his lifetime simply as “Mang Enteng.”  The works of those three celebrated painters, combined with exceptional antique Filipino furniture, punctuated by rare Filipino colonial silver and ivory, and juxtaposed with contemporary art and furniture [ sometimes from Italy and France ] produce a definite look that says the family has always been there, is there, and will always be there.

Last night, I attended the opening of the commemorative exhibit “Si Mang Enteng… Encountering Manansala” at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila at the Central Bank Complex.

I went through the exhibit one artwork at a time…  My personal favorites, my odd tastes in art notwithstanding, were “String Players,” undated, oil on canvas, from the Luis Ma. Araneta Collection — if a painting could be said to possess chic, then that one certainly had it, in spades:  it could have easily hung in the famous Art Deco New York living room of Princess Yelena Ghiurielli [ Helena Rubinstein ] or the legendary PreWar Paris salon of Charles and Marie-Laure de Noailles or even that of Yves Saint Laurent in the 1970s;  “Kahig,” 1976, oil on canvas, from the Gretchen O. Cojuangco Collection;  “Sabungero,” 1977, oil on canvas, from the Ricardo Lopa Collection;  the serene and iridescent “Magsasampaguita,” 1974, oil on canvas, from the Ricardo Lopa Collection;  “First Lesson,” 1977, oil on canvas, Gretchen O. Cojuangco Collection — a not quite banal Madonna and Child rendition;  “Woman with Cat,” 1974, oil on canvas with gold leaf, Tony and Cora Lopa Collection.

I also liked the small “Trees in the Park [ Paris ],” watercolor, 1951, from the Ricardo Lopa Collection.  That one I could also see hanging in a Paris salon along with works by Maurice Utrillo and Raoul Dufy.

Stunning and memorable for the sheer number of lissome naked [ nude? ] figures were the mural-size, graphic “Lexham Garden” and “Voyager” charcoal on paper works, both from the 1970s, from the Louie Cruz Collection.  They would be fantastic in a New York penthouse living room with works by Andy Warhol and Robert Mapplethorpe.  Definitely not for the fainthearted and often hypocritical Manila society matrons, they were works only the irrepressible Louie Cruz, with his matchless devil-may-care panache, could possess!!!

During the lifetime of Ambassador J.V. Cruz, his family was known to have one of the biggest collections of works by Vicente Manansala.



  1. Nona Pimentel said,

    February 2, 2012 at 5:51 am

    Good afternoon Toto,
    I would like to inform you that we also have some really good talents here. I have a friend ‘artist’ who does a lot of works on canvass…oil, pencils, and water colors…he is incredibly good on water color…which I must say is really quite difficult. I have some of his paintings, actually gifts from the artist himself, way, way back in the 80’s..His name is George So…of Davao City…

  2. Bea Erece said,

    August 22, 2011 at 2:55 pm


    Your comments on May 26 2011 are very in-te-res-ting!!! I had met the Villanueva boys years ago and still remember them. I called some our common friends and asked about what I read in your comments. If the information I got is to be believed, the story ends up worse than what I thought. From what I gathered, the widow is now in a hospital at the Fort. She was kidnapped (?) by 2 sons and cannot be released from the hospital because they cannot pay the 10M bill?

    The “Antique Oriental Pottery and Diggings” you had mentioned are on loan at the Ayala Museum for several years. I can’t remember now how long. I know this because a friend of mine was at the opening some years back.

  3. Enrique Bustos said,

    May 30, 2010 at 4:49 am

    From the book of the Cultural Center of the Philippines National Artist
    the Major works of Vicente S. Manansala:

    1.Clusters of Nipa Huts-Jorge Vargas Collection
    2.San Francisco Del Monte -Private Collection
    3.Banaklaot-Purita Kalaw Ledesma Collection
    4.I Believe in God-National Museum Collection
    5.Market Vendors-Dr and Mrs Guillermo Damian Collection
    6.Madonna of the Slums-Mrs Lucila Salazar Collection
    7.Portrait of Lucila -ASA Collection
    8. Calesa-National Museum Collection
    9.Burial-National Museum Collection
    10.Jeepney- Ateneo Art Gallery
    11.Still Life with Guitar-Ateneo Art Gallery
    12.Tuba Drinkers-University of the Philippines Collection
    13.Calesa-Paulino Que Collection
    14.Dambana-Ateneo Art Gallery
    15.Sinigang-Roberto Villanueva Museum
    16.The Ascension-University of the Philippines Collection
    17.Via Crucis-University of the Philippines Collection
    18.Cumbachero-Ricardo Lopa Collection
    19.The Arts and the Sciences-Gift of the CAS Faculty
    20.Whirr-Roberto Villanueva Museum
    21.Planting of the first Cross-National Museum Collection
    22.Still Life-Edilberto Bravo Collection
    23.Reclining Mother & Child-Paulino Que Collection
    24.Beggars at Malacanang-Private Collection
    25.The Crucifixion-Mr & Mrs Mario Que Collection
    26.Pila sa Bigas-Judy Roxas Collection
    27.Disco Combo-Ricardo Lopa Collection
    28.Nude-Central Bank of the Philippines Collection
    29.Give us this Day-Central Bank of the Philippines Collection
    30.Salvador Lopez University of the Philippines Collection
    31.Mural in the Heart Center with Imelda R. Marcos in the Middle
    32.Stations of the Cross of the UP Diliman Chapel
    33.Fresco mural for the National Press Club donated by Eugenio Lopez Sr

  4. Myles Garcia said,

    May 28, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    OK, got a ( rare ) clarification from my cousin re above story. It turns out that her hubby is from another branch of those Vs, not the R branch. So the battling V brothers are cousins of her hubby… but nonetheless, the other branch also suffered when the stock of AG&P took a dive and never recovered.

  5. Myles Garcia said,

    May 27, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    Wow… I didn’t know the Lopas were that… ‘artsily’-connected. One of them ( forget which one ) used to rent a house from us in Bel-Air.

    Then also, now that I think of it, a daughter of a family also associated with a pawnshop empire ( not Ablaza, not Lhuillier, but…T… ) bought our previous, scaled-down residence in San Juan. M must’ve been one of the lesser lights of the family inasmuch as her aunt ( the childless, flamenco-indulging, “cunnilingus-ignorant,”* “philanthropist” ) is embroiled in her own internecine battle with her brother in the move up from Greenhills to Forbes.

    *there is a clip on YouTube which includes a visit to this Tita T’s digs in Forbes wherein she entertains a visitor from Spain. When they get to her “erotic” art alcove, the visitor with his local guide ( T’s flamenco D.I. ) then drops the term “cunnilingus” to articulate the particular carnal piece of artwork, and this much-traveled society doyenne is stumped. She looks like the proverbial deer-caught-in-the-deadlights. It is/was really hard to imagine that this otherwise-worldly “socialite” was not wise to the ways of the world, Assumptionista and Mother Espy-protege or not. Or maybe because of that… ( Of course, the Forbes tea stopover was well-documented on tape because Tita T then indulged visitor with a little flamenco side-stepping… which is like bringing coals to Newcastle. But then again, I hoped that the visitor was not an undercover Pedro Almodovar. You will have to find that link on YouTube on your own. )

    Also, Alicia Perez’s reprinting ( see in the CURRENT EVENTS MANILA page and the “Wars of Inheritance” Comments ) of the AG&P’s Villanuevas’ own internecine war ( a la l’affaire Ilusorio ) finally brought forth another personal connection. I have a cousin married to one of the V’s nephews. They were not Forbes, Dasma. Anyway, I’ve only met this in-law on a few occasions and his familial connections were somewhat hazy…

    So in-law came from moneyed stock but in the last decade or so, their fortunes were reversed. ( Toto, where did I read that your blog is NOT a “high society” rag? I mean there is no other way to report it; I have no control over my keyboard as I type this… 🙂 … rather as this post types itself out! 🙂 )

    Anyway, with a little bit of googling, it turns out that the timeline of reports of the decline of my in-law’s fortune indeed coincide with the “gossiped” reversal of fortune of the now openly public l’affaire Villeneuve. And ( I am not gloating over anyone’s misfortune ), but matters had gotten bad for his family two years ago that the mom ( a Dasma doyenne ) had to move out of her Dasmanse ( I don’t know if that’s the one Annabelle Rama-Gutierrez bought 😉 ) and into my cousin’s house some distance from Corinthian Gardens. So the dots connected. And that’s the latest from the mobile front…:-)

    BTW, where are “liding” and “taitai” now that Nuestra Senora’s joyas are about to be put for auction again?? ( Also, in that link Enrique B. posted to Imierda’s German photographer/groupie’s website, there is a picture of her father, Vicente Orestes, and he is so goodlooking. How come his grandchildren ( especially the older two ) turned out quite the opposite? Kasi, nahaluan ng dugong Ilokanong bagoong!!

    Finally, am going to Greece in July and stopping by Paree on the way back. Am hoping to catch the Lighting of the Flame at Olympia on July 23rd before it heads out for the 1st Youth Olympic Games in Singapore in August. So, Toto, I am serious about getting together with vous amis at Berthillon afterwards.

    So, it’s de Coubertin ( the Baron’s heart is buried in Olympia ), Berthillon, the Bastille, or bust this July.

  6. Eduardo Santos said,

    May 27, 2010 at 8:46 am

    I enjoyed myself at the Manansala retrospective too. Truly one of our Great Masters. My hands down favorite was also ‘Woman with Cat’ ( what a haunting piece of art ) which is part of the Tony Lopa collection. Come to think of it… I heard from someone during the opening that the Lopas ( brothers Ricardo and Tony and their low-key sisters ) seem to have largest collection combined. I also got to see the prewar Amorsolo portraits of their late parents in a special exhibit at the Yuchengco museum last year. What a shame these are all locked up inside their family compound… they should consider opening it to private art tours.

  7. Enrique Bustos said,

    May 27, 2010 at 6:54 am

    Yes Dr Teyet Pascual has an extensive and very valuable art collection he is in fact a neighbor of Mrs Marcos in the 34th floor of Pacific Plaza in Ayala Ave but i don’t think he owns a Michelangelo, a Gauguin, or a Monet watch this clip in youtube where Mrs Marcos show her new penthouse in One Mckinley Place to a BBC reporter and shows him her art collections the Gauguin,Michelangelo,Picasso & Pissaro

  8. May 27, 2010 at 6:11 am

    How about Dr. Teyet Pascual with floor to ceiling priceless art at the Pacific Plaza?

  9. Enrique Bustos said,

    May 26, 2010 at 10:37 am

    The only one that has that collection living in Pacific Plaza is former First Lady Imelda Marcos some of those pieces are now in her new penthouse in One Mckinley Place, Fort Bonifacio.
    if anyone would like to view some of the paintings of Mrs Marcos like Gauguin, Picasso, Michelangelo, sculpture and painting and a Goya go to this Website

  10. Enrique Bustos said,

    May 26, 2010 at 10:26 am

    Two of Vicente Manansala Major works used to be in the Roberto T Villanueva Museum in 17 Banaba Street Forbes Park 1.Sinigang 1956 oil on canvass 49x59cm 2.Whirr 1962 74.3×64.7cm oil on canvass other woks by Manansala in the museum are Cock a doo del doo 23×27 inches 1954 water color on paper and Musical Intruments oil on plywood 23×38 inches Bert Villanueva acquired these pieces when he bought all the collection of the PAG Philippine Art Gallery of Lyd Arguilla this collection formed the nucleus of the Roberto Villanueva Museum that consisted of 1.Paintings during the 50,s 60,s & 70,s 2.Antique Santo’s and 3Antique Oriental Pottery and Diggings sadly the collection now has been dispersed and the lot where the museum stood was foreclose the story goes the Three Musketeers – a bank president, a well-connected real estate magnate, and a high-powered investment banker who are badgering the property owner? According to our ear-spies, the three musketeers were able to successfully get a Break Open order for the property of an old widow, and thereafter, insisted to demolish her museum containing priceless Philippine historical artifacts, and to throw a victory party at that! Our banking industry ear-spy said the banker never notified the owner of the property that the bank would foreclose. What supposedly happened was that the banker and the real estate magnate, were the latter won by P100K over the bank’s bid, auctioned the property in great haste. Right now, light posts have been nailed to the ground and the wires illegally tapped into the widow’s next-door neighbor, who turns out to be one of the Three Musketeers, and now recently the controversy who should have the custody of the widow of Bert Villanueva

  11. Presy Guevara said,

    May 23, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    Could you publish a few pictures of Mang Enteng’s works exhibited? He was my professor in watercolor for a short while. I wish I could see the exhibit.

  12. May 23, 2010 at 4:58 pm


    It was also so nice to see you at the Manansala exhibit at the Met last Thursday. 🙂

    Oh yes, those Manansala works with Louie Cruz are… matchless!!!


    Toto Gonzalez

  13. May 23, 2010 at 10:37 am

    So good to see you at Mang Enteng’s 100th birthday exhibit.

    For my quirky tastes, I liked the Jesus cruxi-fiction small ones, and the big red carabao head.

    Yes the LOUIE CRUZ pieces including the stained glass sculpture slash lamps of Manansala were IMPECCABLE.

  14. Alicia Perez said,

    May 21, 2010 at 7:10 pm


    Senator Jamby Madrigal?

    Or properly mentioned: Maria Ana Consuelo Abad Santos Madrigal-de Valade? Or Madame la Comtesse Eric Dudoignon de Valade?

    Alicia Perez

  15. Josh Moya said,

    May 21, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    Those paintings are good and very Filipino but if you really want to tell the whole world how loaded your family is then why not put a Michelangelo, a Gauguin, or a Monet on your wall? I know someone who lives in Pacific Plaza whose collection can kick the Philippine National Museum’s ass.

  16. Toffee Tionko said,

    May 21, 2010 at 6:57 am

    I kinda noticed that during a presidential candidate’s interview which was done in the residence. The location was in a Quezon City area known for big cuts of land. The mansion looked either new, refurbished, or rebuilt. However, the paintings and the furniture looked like they had been in the family for a long time.

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